FreeDarko has defined the edges of the basketball blogosphere forever, and is now going quiet. It will be missed.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss has a tidy turn of phrase: "FreeDarko means carving a niche into an invisible mountain. Since it happened, anything is possible. Smart people can dream up an entire medium from scratch, and gain an audience."
All kinds of people are piping up in tribute to FreeDarko in a beautiful big ol' goodbye post, in which the genius behind all that artwork threatens (jokingly, I hope) to retire and ringleader Bethlehem Shoals attempts to sum it all up:
When we started FreeDarko, we thought we knew everything. We had doctrine, catch-phrases, invented theories, and an extensive list of heroes and villains. There was even an uncompromising house style, one whose major influence, as far as I could tell, was Babelfish. I guess you could say we were ideologues, or fancied ourselves a movement, except we didn't. It just seemed like the only reasonable way to charge in and start making bold, possibly faulty, points about professional sports. We were wrong as often as we were right, and we knew it, but part of the fun was never letting on that we cared -- or even noticed. ...
Now, when I look back at the first year or so, or even try to make peace with an idea like Liberated Fandom or the Positional Revolution, I find myself less certain than ever. That's not to say the game no longer inspires me, or that I've run out of ideas. Nor is a commentary on the tremendous letdown -- aesthetically, competitively, politically, and anything else you can think of -- that the Heat's season has come to represent. I think it's more that, after six years, I'm trying harder than ever to just listen to the game, and take those scraps of truth and insight where I can. This kind of decentralization may not be as fun, but it's more honest, and certainly more durable. And really, it's taking the real point of FreeDarko and casting aside all its former egotism. Or, if you want, realizing that revolutions and movements either burn out, go underground, or fade into what's next. Whatever it is, I blame basketball.